What Is Spondylosis?
Learn about the symptoms and treatment options for spondylosis.
Spondylosis is the damage that comes from the normal wear and tear of osteoarthritis in joints between the bones of the spine (vertebrae), and in the spinal discs, which act as cushions or shock absorbers between the vertebrae.
As we age, osteoarthritis can cause a number of changes in and around the spine. The spinal discs may dry out and shrink, bone spurs may develop along the edges of the vertebrae, bulging or herniated discs may cause pain and discomfort and spinal ligaments may begin to stiffen, causing decreased flexibility.
What You May Be Feeling
Bladder control issues or pain
Much of the time there are no symptoms, but when patients do have symptoms, they usually include neck pain and stiffness. If the spondylosis is causing pressure or pinching on the spinal cord nerves, then other symptoms may appear. Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the arms, legs and hands or feet, difficulty standing or walking and loss of control of the bladder or bowels are some symptoms that may indicate that it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Potential Treatment Options
A laminectomy is a very common procedure that removes a portion of what is known as the lamina (which is the back part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal) in order to create space in the area affected by the spondylosis.
A laminotomy is a spinal decompression surgery where only a very small portion of the lamina is removed to take pressure off the nerves and spinal cord for pain relief.
During a lumbar fusion the damaged disc is removed from the lower back (lumbar spine), and the two vertebrae are fused together with a reinforced implant to create support.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Also known as an RFA, this procedure uses high-energy radio frequency to ablate (or remove/vaporize) the troubled nerve, essentially eliminating the sensation of pain.
Conservative Treatments for Spondylosis
- NSAIDs (over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen)
- Prescription pain medications
- Antidepressants (some have been shown to relieve spondylosis symptoms)
- Muscle relaxants
- Physical therapy
- Daily walks or other moderate exercises
- Ice or heat